Harvesting plantain leaves

About a week and a half ago my dd8 got a splinter in her finger, and she didn’t want me to pry around with a needle because it was too sore.  I’ve heard that putting a banana peel on it is a great way to draw out the splinter, but naturally, though I usually have bananas around, right then I didn’t have any.

I considered if I had any other options, and this is what I did.  I told her to soak her finger in warm water, and then to go outside and pick some plantain.  Do you know what plantain looks like?  It’s a common weed that grows all over the place here, maybe all over the US, I don’t know.  The Native Americans used to call it white man’s foot, or broad foot, because wherever the white man travelled, plantain would grow. 

I don’t know much about identifying weeds or wild plants, but a few years ago I was on a nature hike with the kids and the guide pointed it out.  He pointed out other things, too, that I didn’t remember.  But this one was memorable because he had said it was good for a number of things, including bee stings.  A little later on that hike, a little girl got a bee sting and he immediately picked some, smashed it to a pulp with a rock, and applied it to her sting.  She calmed down very quickly.

Not long after that, I was attending my then sixth grade son’s baseball game.  At that age, most of the parents don’t attend the game, but I went to every game.  One of his fifth grade teamates was stung by a wasp on his hand, and it was so painful that he couldn’t hold a ball or bat.  There was no other adult to help him and even though he was trying to act like it wasn’t a big deal, I could tell it really was hurting.  So I picked some plantain, told him it needed to be chewed or smashed with a rock before applying it, and he willingly chewed it and put it on his sting.  I thought I must have seemed like a weirdo to him and wondered if it would really help, but I needn’t have worried.  He told me after a minute that his hand felt normal and was very appreciative – and he thought it was cool, not weird.

Plantain is good for lots of things, and I thought it might draw out the splinter, too.  So I told dd to wrap it around her finger and put a bandaid on top to hold it on.  We couldn’t find the splinter the next day when we took it off, so I guess it worked. 

Today I asked ds10 to pick some to make a salve with (I’ll share details of that with you tomorrow when it’s finished and I see how it works), and asked dd8to pick a bunch of it to dehydrate it for future use – it’s good for a lot of things, it’s free and easily available, so I figure, why not take advantage of it and stock my home grown medicine cabinet supplies? :)


4 thoughts on “Harvesting plantain leaves

  1. Have you tried to eat the leaves? They are edible (especially when smallish) — I remember trying them as a child. I now just dig them up out of our yard :) .

  2. No, I haven’t tried to eat them, but if you’ve found a tasty way to eat them, I’ll try them! Do you use them the same way you would lettuce?

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